STRATFORD, Conn., Nov. 18 (UPI) -- Sikorsky UH-60M helicopters for the Swedish military are being built on an accelerated 18-month production schedule, the Connecticut company announced.
Production began in May and seven aircraft are being delivered to the U.S. Army by December, with eight more deliveries to be made through the fall of next year, Sikorsky said.
"The Black Hawk ... is the world's best current and future force utility helicopter," said Gregory D. Gore, deputy project manager, U.S. Army Utility Helicopters Project Office. "The UH-60 provides all commanders with rapid and agile maneuver capability through air assault, general support, command and control, and MEDEVAC missions. These features will provide Sweden an unparalleled asset to support their primary mission of medical evacuation and troop transport in Afghanistan as these aircraft are fielded in 2013."
Sweden's military procurement office is obtaining the 15 aircraft through the U.S. Government's Foreign Military Sales program.
Sikorsky said accelerated production will allow Sweden's military to deploy three UH-60M aircraft to Afghanistan in early 2013 for medical evacuation, utility, and search-and-rescue missions.
Sweden is the first European country to acquire the U.S. Army's UH-60M Black Hawk -- the latest variant -- which entered into service with the U.S. Army in 2007. The aircraft for Sweden feature an advanced flight control system, full night vision device capability and a state-of-the-art communications.
Modifications for Sweden will be performed by the U.S. Army. Among them: an exterior rescue hoist, gunner seats, armored floor, stackable litters, a cockpit heater and environmental control system.
"Close collaboration with the U.S. Army is enabling Sikorsky to build these UH-60M Black Hawk aircraft 18 months ahead of a typical production schedule," said John Pacelli, Sikorsky's vice president for International Military Business. "We're very pleased our joint efforts will meet Sweden's urgent requirement for new helicopters and associated training and logistic support in time for deployment."